Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Meet the Maker - MEGA MIX!

As Fabrications 15th Birthday Celebrations approaches, I'd like to put a BIG SHOUT OUT and say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to all my friends, family, creatives, teachers, doers, fixers, special people that have put your time, energy and creativity into Fabrications over the years. 
I've Been going through my pics - Can you spot yourself?? (Sorry if you can't I didn't always have my camera to hand to capture the moment but I havn't forgotten you or your support!)

From left to right - David Mumford ( D.A M ) Sue Russell (Wool-n-Dance) Katherine May, Jillian Bulgan, Clare Sams & Mark - Paul.

Eric Martin & Nikolai Delvendahl (Delvendahl & Martin Architects) Jay & Yassir (Out of the Dark now Jay & Co) Sam Buckland & Sarah Mc Phee, Ayda Anlagan (Monstify), Rachael Matthews (formerly Cast Off now Prick Your Finger)

Rosie Martin (DIY Couture) Adeline Royal Caminski, Stephanie Bescoby, Jane Smith, Sarah Corbett (Craftivist Collective) Lisa Margreet

Caroline Brooks (Shoreditch Sisters) Tommy the Cat, The Upcycling Academy (collaboration with Fabrications, Traid & War on Want) Clemence Joly, Laura Lees (The Mighty Stitch) Marion Berger

Fiona Sail & team (Sail & Sons), Jade Ilke, Hackney Council, Michael Swaine, Ryan Frank, Annie Sherburne, Tree (Stitchless TV) Lu Flux

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Meet the Maker - It's David A Mumford!

I've not posted up a 'Meet the Maker' interview in a while, so thought it time I did so! This month's featured maker is David A Mumford, who I have known for many years but have had the privilege of working directly with at Fabrications over the last year both selling a selection of his upcycled fashion accessories and developing a range of sewing classes with him. Formerly one of the designers at Junky Styling, well known for their pioneering and creative approach to garment reinventions.

David has 2 classes coming up at Fabrications:

'Introduction to using a sewing machine & upcycling" on Sunday 21st June and 'Transform a man's shirt into a summer bomber jacket" on Sunday 26th July.

BM: Tell me a little about your design background?
DAM: Since I was a teenager I have had a passion for making clothes. It all began from not being able to afford to buy the clothes that I wanted to wear, and being able to express my own individual identity. I highjacked my Mothers sewing machine and started altering garments that I purchased at jumble sales and charity shops. This has led to a career in fashion that spans four decades.

BM: What are your favourite textiles to upcycle and why?
DAM: I enjoy upcycling all materials/garments as its always a challenge to find the best way of re-creating them, bringing them up to date and giving them a new lease of life. Men's suits and shirts are great, because they have lots of pockets and fastenings that you can re use.

BM: How do you find upcycling differs to traditional methods of garment making?
DAM: Upcycling differs because you are working with materials that already have a 3D form, and to a certain extent less restricted by the rules of traditional garment construction, enabling you to find your own methods of making and designing by experimentation. 

BM: What are you working on at the moment?
DAM: I am currently designing and producing a ready to wear collection of upcycled clothing under my new label D.A.M I also accept private bespoke commissions.  I frequently run a series of workshops in schools, colleges, as well as Fabrications to share my knowledge and expertise in Upcycling. This, promotes creativity and extends the life expectancy of already manufactured clothing.

BM: Having worked within the fashion industry for over 20 yrs, do you think upcycling offers a creative solution to reducing the environmental and social impacts of 'fast' fashion?
You can keep recycling/upcycling pieces of clothing over and over again. Well loved garments can always become something new and fresh. With a little imagination, you can create something inspiring and beautiful that you or any one else would never want to part with and send off to a landfill.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Tips & Tricks on hosting your very own 'Fashion Hackathon'

On Saturday 25th April I was fortunate to be involved alongside Love your Clothes at  Clotho’s first ‘Fashion Hackathon’. Although I’ve been upcycling for many a year now the concept of a fashion hackathon was new to me. The Clotho girls informed us that they had drawn inspiration from computer ‘Hackathons’ they had attended , where computer wizards and hobbits gather in a large room and form teams that then build programmes, apps etc together in 24 hours! Their idea was to take all the clothes that they were unable to list on their clothing exchange website due to rips, broken zips, unravelling hems etc and for participants to turn them into new and beautiful items in a ‘sustainable sewing factory’. 
So I set up my machines and boxes of threads, scissors, haberdashery and we set design challenges – theme of festival fashion, labels to be worn on the outside (as to think about where and by whom the original garment was made) Working collectively, creating change / transformation and the teams set to work!
It was a lively day and participants fully embraced the challenges, coming up with really inventive ‘fashion hacks’ and working together to realise their designs.

So I thought I’d encourage you to have your own fashion hackathons at home!
  Here are my tips and tricks to consider when approaching your own ‘Fashion Hacks’:

- Make the most of existing fasteners
- Holes & wear are an opportunity for transformation!
- Mix & match and fuse different items together
- Create ‘multifunctional’ garments
- Play with pattern

Re working your old clothes is fun and personal. It’s important to tap into your own creativity and sense of style. Recognize the potential and look at your old clothes from a different perspective! Some basic sewing skills are necessary. If you have no experience or are new to sewing, I offer lots of accessible classes at my studio Fabrications in Hackney, East London.

Thank you to Fabrications students for allowing me to share your creations!

Here are my tips and tricks to consider when approaching your own ‘Fashion Hacks’:

- Make the most of existing fasteners
- Holes & wear are an opportunity for transformation!
- Mix & match and fuse different items together
- Create ‘multifunctional’ garments
- Play with pattern

Re working your old clothes is fun and personal. It’s important to tap into your own creativity and sense of style. Recognize the potential and look at your old clothes from a different perspective! Some basic sewing skills are necessary. If you have no experience or are new to sewing, I offer lots of accessible classes at my studio Fabrications in Hackney, East London.

Thank you to Fabrications students for allowing me to share your creations!


Making the most of existing fasteners……I love working with men’s shirts. Not only is the fabric stable and easy to work with they have lots of buttoning!  Often buttons on shirts are set to similar spacing, so you can button different shirts together to make a new garment or a bell tent if you keep going! Fortunately I reigned myself in to this ‘cut & paste’ collaged dress and stuck to 3 shirts! Cutting on this dress was minimal; the shaping is created through a belted gathered waist band and elastication half way down the sleeves. You could add darts on the top shirt for more fitting.

Holes and wear n tear are an opportunity for transformation…..Appliqué (or patching) is my friend. I have a number of favourite jeans that are works in progress, as another hole appears on goes a new patch! This can be done discreetly with similar fabric or show off - make your patching stand out in a crowd! I enjoy making patches from other old clothes or textiles to create motifs or ‘cheat embroideries’.
I tend to machine on my patches using a ‘3 step zig zag’ (this is stronger than a regular zig zag) or a ‘Free motion’ / quilting foot so I can sketch / squiggle around and over the patch. If using a lightweight fabric as your patch, tack some other fabric on the back to reinforce.  Take off the removable front part of the machine to give you a narrower working area. Trouser legs can get tricky and on skinny jeans you may have to open up the seam for access and then stitch back together!

Mix & match and fuse different items together…..Sometimes you might have 2 garments that just aren’t working for you or they are a bit tired and worn out! Think about combining them! Louise took an old jumper and cut it down the front and cut off the cuffs and border from an old cardigan and over locked the components together to make a new 2 tone cardigan! If you don’t have an over locker use the ‘overcast’ or stretch stitch on your machine or slip one over the other (for a thicker cardigan!)
It is possible to mix different fabric textures and weights but it does require more care and preparation tacking etc to help prevent movements!

Create ‘multifunctional’ garments….My friend and colleague David Mumford is a very clever garment upcyclist. (He also mentored at Clotho’s Fashion Hackathon)
Here he is at Fabrications teaching students the marvels of sewing and upcycling (using men’s shirts)  He used to design with the fashion brand ‘Junky Styling’ who were well known for their clever garment reinventions. Garments that can be worn in different ways are likely to be used more often over a longer period of time. 

Play with pattern……is also a lot of fun! Sometimes the most unexpected combination of pattern designs harmonises and works!
Here is an idea from another friend and colleague – Tree from Stitchless TV’. Take 2 vintage tourist scarves to make a raglan Prada style top. (pictures taken from summer workshops at Fabrications) Tree has a unique talent in taking high fashion ideas and simplifying them down into accessible ‘speed stitching’, free style cutting projects for beginners and other home sewers. Many of the projects on her TV channel use old clothes – well worth checking her out!

I hope you are feeling inspired to host your own ‘Fashion Hackathon’ at home. Please share your creations with us,we’d love to see what you re-make! 

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Yarn Shop Day! Come see us! Saturday 2nd May!

Following the success of last year’s event, Fabrications is pleased to announce that we will be participating in the national ‘Love Your Yarn Shop’ campaign, initiated by Let's Knit Magazine which aims to raise the profile of the value that bricks and mortar yarn stores bring to the local community. Part of the campaign includes ‘Yarn Shop Day’ taking place on Saturday 2nd May.

On ‘Yarn Shop Day’, Fabrications will be hosting a ‘Close-Knit Community Knit-Tea Party’ open to all ages (from 7+) and all levels of crafter from 1:30-5:30pm. 

Flowers, leaves, and garlands will make up the creations for the day, which can be knitted or crocheted in detail with small needles and hooks or large on their unique MACRO knitting needles and French knitting wheels. All of the items created will be added to a flourishing knitted trellis installation on Fabrications shop front, so that everyone can admire them! 

Special Goody Bags are set to be available for the first 25 customers of the day to start off the event. Everything will be provided, from the materials to the food, with Fabrications lovely teachers on hand to help, so all you need to bring is you! Everyone is welcome to this free event, but space is limited, so be sure to book your spot NOW!. 

Participating in this exciting day is just the beginning of the celebration to mark Fabrications 15th birthday! 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

It's Traid's #Secondhandfirst week!

I was invited to guest write on Traid’s blog this week, so thought I'd post up a copy with a few more pictures on my own blog as well! This week Traid has initiated the first hopefully of many  #Secondhandfirst week, jam packed with interesting activities encouraging us to take the #Secondhandfirst Pledge. It is a great great initiative which also highlights the ways we buy our clothes and a reminder of all the environmental and social problems in the textile and garment supply chain. We all have the capacity to affect these problems in positive ways as conscious consumers and citizens.

The volume of textile and clothing waste in the UK is quite staggering (Source WRAP: 350,000 tonnes of used clothing goes to landfill every year. 30% of our unwanted clothes goes to landfill. 60% of UK households have unwanted clothes & textiles at home) We are throwing away or just hoarding valuable resources!!

In the ‘Hierarchy of waste’; reduce and reuse are at the top of the pyramid. For me this way of thinking and being is very easy. I was brought up on a diet of second hand being careful. Hand me downs (or hand me ups!) was the norm without any shame or stigmas that today’s youngsters seem to feel. As a teenager (and continues to be so!) sourcing clothes from charity shops was fun, a great source of individuality, re styling possibilities and affordable! I still take advantage of Traid’s famous £2 sales!! As I enter my mid years I also appreciate the emotional durability of second hand, especially items from older relatives which hold memories, stories and history. Many vintage clothes were made to last too.

Care and repair is an important part of making our old clothes go further and re connecting with the joy in fixing and looking after items. Tired old clothes gives us an opportunity for re styling an item giving that buzz of wearing something completely different and you had a hand in making it happen! I have observed a skill shortage and lack of confidence in being able to do this. Back in the day these skills would have been passed on through the family or taught in school. This has motivated me to run regular classes in learning to sew and refreshing your wardrobe through simple alterations, mending, darning & embellishing and these classes are popular which is heartening!

Upcycling adds value through creativity and design. Items too damaged for re use present an opportunity for transformation. A few years ago I iinitiated ‘The Upcycling Academy’ to give young people the opportunity to experience a ‘Productive Line’ to re imagine a different approach to fashion, to create rather than consume. Partnering with Traid, War on Want & the Craftivist Collective, we each added ‘Values’ along the line.

Taking inspiration from ‘Cradle to Cradle’ thinking, imagine a garment circulating through many owners in its lifetime? (Truthfully many garments never reach their full potential in relation to resources, energy used to make and distribute the item)
I love the recent trend for Clothes Swapping or its older sister ‘Swishing’. Jo of Mrs Bears Clothes Swap tells me that that she has regulars who use her swaps to ‘rotate their wardrobe’ – brilliant!

Wonderfully TV programmes such as ‘The great British sewing Bee’ which added an upcycling / alteration challenge to the second series and ‘This old Thing’ (the vintage clothes show) have inspired the nation to look at old clothes and lost textile skills with a fresh passion. Even Coronation Street discussed the possibility of an ‘upcycled wedding’! It’s all good!

So now over to you dear reader! Get involved and feel inspired! There are a range of fun activities taking place during #Secondhandfirst week.
My next Fabrications craft club on Thursday 20th November is a #Secondhandfirst themed evening with a clothes swap upstairs in the shop and revamp / mending session downstairs in the workshop. More information and Booking info.

P.S: All the featured projects in this post use clothing sourced from Traid!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Waste Less Live More

Today is the first day of 'Waste Less Live More' week. An initiative by 'Keep Britain Tidy' to raise awareness that environmental and social issues are interlinked and tackling these issues together is a far more effective solution. This year's theme is 'Be Resourceful', which is right up Fabrications street!

 I was approached by the 'Love your Clothes Campaign' to share one of my garment upcycling ideas as part of their 'Waste Less Live More' daily updates in collaboration with the 'Centre for Sustainable Fashion' . Between the two of them they will be streaming lots of tips and advise on how to get the most out of your old clothes in fun, practical and stylish ways. So make sure you tune in to their daily updates this week!

So here is my tutorial on how to transform a man's shirt into a stylish summer top. Time to raid your Father's, Brother's, Boyfriend's wardrobes! Thankyou Ali from Love your Clothes (London's arm) for taking such great pictures to illustrate how it's done. 

Step 1 -  Iron out any wrinkles to prepare for ....
Step 2 - Cut off the arms and cut through front and back of shirt in an even , straight line. Avoid accidentally cutting through a button! (which your scissors won't be very pleased about)

Step 3 - undo the buttons down the shirt front to reveal the inside back panel where you want to measure down 2" from the cut edge, put in a row of pins or mark with tailor's chalk.  
Step 4 - Folding under at the beginning and end (to hide raw edge), pin cotton tape (1" wide) along the row of pins / chalked line from side seam to side seam.  
Step 5 - Measure down 1.5" to add a second row of tape as per Step 4.  
Step 6 - Attach cotton tape to the inside (back panel) of the shirt by stitching along each edge, creating a decent sized channel for threading elastic through.

Step 7 - Attach a safety pin to your elastic (I used 6mm elastic) and thread through each channel, using the safety pin to secure the elastic at each end while you determine how gathered the back panel needs to be to fit your body. This can be done roughly at this stage and tweaked later to get a better fit.

Step 8 - Now it's time to play with the sleeves to make straps. Find 'Centre Back' and mark with a pin. Temporarily pin the sleeve cuffs on the front and lift sleeves over your shoulders towards the Centre Back pin mark. Now you know how much of the sleeves to cut down!
Step 9 - Set the machine to the longest straight stitch and run along the newly cut edge through both sides of sleeves (opposite end to cuffs) Pull on either top or bottom thread to gather.the fabric.

Step 10  - Pin both cuff ends facing down on top of outside of shirt fronts ('Right Sides Together') either side of the button opening and 'Stay Stitch' in position (stitch as close to the edge as you can, this stitching is just to help you for the next step.
Step 11 - Pin the cotton tape along the stay stitch line and just along each shirt fronts (not the back panel yet!) This time fold raw edges on each end of the cotton tape towards you (as this will get folded over as a hem later)  

Step 12 - Position the other end of the sleeve straps either side of your 'Centre Back' pin. Repeat same actions as Step 10 - pin 'Right Sides Together' and 'Stay Stitch' in position.
Step 13 - Attach cotton tape to the back panel, following the same method as Step 11

Step 14 - Fold the cotton tape over creating a hem in 3 parts (Front/Back/Front) on the inside. You can use an iron to help press into position neatly. The sleeve straps and any raw edges should be sandwiched and hidden behind the cotton tape.
Step 15 - Pin into position and stitch down the remaining cotton edge along the 3 sections of the shirt. 
Step 16 - As you've stitched the tape in 3 sections, you should have a neat opening on the back panel to thread elastic through to add a third level of elastication on the back.
Step 17 - Final touches! Pull elastic in all 3 channels to fit your body or ruched how you like it! Once happy cut back any excess elastic and hand stitch to anchor on the inside of each end the cotton tape channel.

As with many upcycling projects you will be led by the size and style of the shirt to create many variations on a theme. The blue shirt was an XL so needed more gathering on the back panel. On the purple gingham I also gathered the middle section of the sleeve straps to create a different finish. The possibilities are endless! Happy Upcycling! I'd love to see what you create! Please post your pictures on my Facebook or Twitter pages with the #wllm14

Tuesday, 1 July 2014


It's that time of year when I give my studio space and shop a shake up! A 'deep clean' and sort out to make way for new possibilities and shelf space! I've decided to set free some of my stash and treasures including these amazing vintage knitting patterns.

 You might recognise a couple of the models! Sean Connery and Lorraine Chase. A lot of great actors started their careers on the front of knitting patterns.

Some designs no matter how old are timeless and look fresh today. Come on down and grab yourself some one off bargains. I'm selling patterns and magazines like these for 4 for £1 or 10 for £2

There are also lots of other goodies and deals including 50% off a selection of yarns, craft kits, books and gifts * bag of fabric £3.50 or 4 for £10 * bags of creativity * bags of fun * brick a brack * Other random delights! "Come down and have a look!"
Opening Times: Tuesday - Friday 12 - 5.30pm, Saturday 10am - 5.30pm, Sunday 11 - 5pm